Aish Kodesh 12/30/2010 Parsha Va'era
, ten plagues
, ten commandments
Aish Kodesh December 30, 2010 Vaâera
Why do we have two parshas with the same name? The first one, Vayera, has a yud, which turns the future into the past. It means G*d will appear. HaShem appeared to Abraham, who had his bris. Abraham was talking with G*d, two dusty Arabs came by and Abraham put G*d on hold. Not too many Jews would do that today!
Midrash Rabbah: This was written at the same time as the Talmud. This is like if you had Shakespeare, Chaucer, etc. and compare metaphors simultaneously. This is not for the linear mind. The guys in the math and psychics department canât interpret music and poetry. This weekâs Vayera turns the past into the future, it is the opposite.
How did Abraham and Moses worship two different G*ds? Abraham worshipped the G*d of Sufficiency and Moses took G*d to task for things getter worse, re the bricks and straw.
Open your minds and hearts because this is an experience. Poetry you have to feel. âHaShem said to Abraham, âGo to yourselfâ¦.â âincline your ear, forget your people and your fatherâs houseâ¦â
Student: What daughter?
Rabbi: Youâre thinking! King David wrote this. He would write poetry in the middle of the night. He had a wind chime wake him up. Sings: âorah orah orah kivodiâ¦â This is G*d speaking to his daughter, who is probably Israel. âThis is like someone who saw a palace on fire. Could this palace not have a boss? Someone said âI am the boss.â Can you say that this world is without a boss because of the constant destruction. I am the master of the world. The king will desire your beauty (G*d will desire to beautify you in the eyes of the world) so bow to him and be his servant. Go to yourself and leave all those influences behind. Your oils are goodly and fragrant, therefore the maidens love you. Abraham was compared to a flask of balsam oil. When it was moved around and shook, its fragrance spread. Move yourself from place to place so your name will become known in the world.â Iâm so excited about this. You have to know literary poetic Hebrew.
Student: This brings up the image of the burning bush.
We have father and daughter, someone looking at a burning palace, someone spelling fragrant to seduce-
Student: Abraham has to burn all those old memories away.
Student: Sodom and Gemora.
Rabbi: The world is a palace built on a trash heap. When he met Pharaoh, Pharaoh took Sarah and he knew that if he said he was her husband, he would be killed. Civilization seemed to be unbridled desire. The world always appears as a burning palace built on a trash heap.
Student (G*d speaking like a father telling his daughter to leave): The wanderings of the Jewish people over the centuries. Almost everywhere you go you find a Jew.
Rabbi: We have six generations in the cemetery here. Thatâs very unusual for Jews. The Germans had a strange obsession to tear up all those graves. Why are the Jewish people in a constant state of redemption and exile? The perfume of revelation waft through.
Student: We change every culture we come in contact with.
Break while we logged onto Talkshoe
Student: Sapphire is the second hardest mineral, diamond being the first.
Rabbi: When we want to find out a revelation, we can open the book at random with a particular question in mind (I have one Iâve been thinking about) and see what comes up as the answer. My questions from Vayechai: should I hope for a quick, painless death or a long illness in which I can process my life and talk with my children and my friends like Yaakov did. Iâve been asking a lot of other people what they hope for. I turned to a page with only a couple of paragraphs: âIt nurtured its children, the crops growing like at its motherâs breasts. It was there that all the nations of the world agreed to coronate Abraham as their king and they cut down some cedar tree.â Tonight I had dinner with two of my sons and called them cedars of Lebanon.
The words of the Torah light up like those gemstones. When we go into the Aish Kodesh he says when you have a Torah lesson like this, some words light up and some donât, like some gemstones light up and some donât. The words of the Torah are like stones. Revelation is happening all the time. When you feel these words lighting up, it lights up the whole Torah and becomes associated with images in your mind it goes from an intellectual exercise to being a poem.
Rabbi reads it again. âGo to yourselfâ¦. incline your ear, forget your people and your fatherâs houseâ¦
This is like someone who saw a palace on fire. Could this palace not have a boss? Someone said âI am the boss.â Can you say that this world is without a boss because of the constant destruction? I am the master of the world. The king will desire your beauty (G*d will desire to beautify you in the eyes of the world) so bow to him and be his servant. Go to yourself and leave all those influences behind. Your oils are goodly and fragrant, therefore the maidens love you. Abraham was compared to a flask of balsam oil. When it was moved around and shook, its fragrance spread. Move yourself from place to place so your name will become known in the world. The tzimtzum is a curtain and G*d is hiding behind the curtain. The world appears to be burning with desires, but HaShem is behind the curtain with this wonderful fragrant presence. The Holy One peaked outâand the word is the same as tzistzis and two lovers gazing through the latticework. Then the King will desire your beauty because He is your master. So bow to him and be his servant.â (Abrahamâs father was the lid that kept his fragrance from getting out for 75 years.) (You see all the Torah in the Koran and the New Testament. New Years is the day of circumcision and it with Xmas are the only Xtian holidays that starts at night.)
Why do we have to go through this, jealousy, slavery, exile to redemption?
Student: Oil doesnât evaporate so the fragrance doesnât dissipate. The Jews can spread but we donât dissipate.
Rabbi: I went with a friend to a movie, The Kingâs Speech, I recommend, about the speech of King George that started World War II. Itâs about this moment like right here where weâre right in the middle of slavery, Pharaohâs taken away the straw and people are all borching, like all the people in New York screaming at the mayor because of the snow. The mayor didnât cause the snow! The people are saying you caused a lot of trouble, killing an Egyptian taskmaster, and now you come a second time and Pharaoh takes away the straw and weâre getting beaten twice as much. Moses turns to G*d and says, âWhat are you doing?â In the movie England finally stood up to Hitler. America didnât nor did any other country. England said we will stand firm no matter what, and in the blitz thousands of people died. That was a critical moment in history. Right before that King Edward was king of England. King Edward and his brother, the last thing he wanted was to be king because he had a stutter, just like Moses, and his worst nightmare was to give public speeches. Edward was pro-Hitler. Hitler met with the head of IBM and Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, and they were the heads of a group to keep England and America neutral. Nobody would have stopped Hitler. King Edward falls in love with ____ and she slept with everybody on the block and he was willing to abdicate. It wasnât allowed for the king of England to marry a divorcee, just like a Kohane. So King George took over, but he didnât want to do (just like Moses); he started crying. He had a friend, just like Moses, who stood in front of him and said talk to me, donât talk to the world, he called the king Bernie, and they were always just friends, and when you hear him give the speech and he says this is a dark hour in all of human history and we are facing a monster, we have to stand firm. Moshe came into the court of Pharaoh and there were linguists who knew 70 languages and Moshe comes in stuttering, you canât imagine. Hereâs King George sandwiched between Churchill, Roosevelt and Hitler and he would feel like shit and this Australian friend of his taught him how to not stutter. I turned to Rich and he said: I was a stutterer, when I was four I started stuttering after surgery. I said I had the same surgery when I was three! We both remembered the smell of the ether coming down on our faces. For both of us it was so concrete. I can still smell it. Fragrance hits a different part of the brain and we both shared this experience. It had been very traumatic for me, too. Itâs the only thing I remember from that age. Thatâs non-straight-line.
How do we overcome anything weâre afraid of?
G*d says to him âI appeared.â Weâre turning the future into the past. Vayera means he appeared. And this means that I appeared to Yitzchak, Jacob as El Shakai, sufficiency, breast. We have Shakai on our doorway so what we have in our home should be enough for us. Whatâs this connection between breast and sufficiency?
Student: That is all babies get and itâs enough.
Rabbi: Shabbos is the breast of the week. The prayer says Shabbos nourishes the rest of the week.
Student: You let go so if you can do this the rest of the week, it nourishes you.
The Ishpitzer comes from that, G*d peering out from the corner saying I am the boss. If you donât stop and quiet yourself youâll never hear the voice of the Boss from behind the curtain. From the word seven, satisfaction. Unless youâre satisfied with what you have, you canât do Shabbos. Youâll always be thinking about how to get something else. If things are on the burner you canât let go for Shabbos. Also the G*d of âThatâs enough. I made it. Thank G*d itâs Friday.â Reb Shlomo said he did more on Friday night than he did all the other nights together. He never, never stopped before midnight. Shabbos had an energy that wasnât available throughout the week. When you find that energy, itâs very motivating.
We go into the four worlds. G*d appears to Moshe to reassure him that the lights are still lighting. Verse 2: âG*d spoke to Moses and said I am HaShemâ¦.â
What does it mean to be redeemed from exile and slavery? The Torah says itâs like breaking in and breathing out. Iâm seeing a lot of students (I donât use the word Morano anymore). There are four different words for levels of redemption. Torah says this is a minute-by-minute awareness. How do we define redemption and freedom in our own lives. What does it mean for you?
Student: Freedom brings redemption. Freedom is conscious choice.
Student: Freedom is a moment of clarity, choice, redemption is making a better choice to live more effectively.
Student: When you redeem a coupon you have entitlement to it, you take possession. There is no such thing as freedom. We canât have fully clear vision so we canât be fully free.
Student: I donât think we ever can be free mentally because the fear of HaShem, when youâre free, you donât want the fear of HaShem.
Rabbi: I feel freest when I can give in or lose and feel good about it because I feel most controlled by my desire to win. Redemption: cleaning the mud off a diamond. Refining something inside myself. When I do teshuva and turn a weakness into a strength and a source of compassion, I took schmutz and turned it into a diamond.
Student: I like that imagery. I stayed up all night and finally got clarity and wrote a poem. It was about infancy and thereâs pain and love there even though Iâve done a tremendous amount of work. Love and compassion come from working through the difficult times, not the easy times. I donât like the word redemption because itâs got too many connotations. Freedom was during the mediation for my divorce and I realized that all of this was about money and not about anything else.
Rabbi: You can take the Jews out of slavery but you canât take the slavery out of the Jews. Although we have a lot of freedom here, weâre carrying a lot of schmutz around. The Neo-Nazis from Sweden stole (?) the sign that said Work Will Make You Free. Sweden is supposed to be free and this is what the Jews all saw when they entered slavery.
From Wikipedia: The sign over Auschwitz was stolen in December 2009 and then recovered by authorities in three separate pieces. The person behind the theft, a former Neo-Nazi leader, pleaded guilty on 30 December 2010  and will serve his term in Sweden, and one of the other people involved in the theft is said to have apologised for the action. As a result of the theft and desecration of the sign, the original sign over the Auschwitz entrance has now been permanently replaced with a replica, and the original sign, which has been repaired but will never look the same, is now in the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum among other Auschwitz artifacts. See the whole article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arbeit_macht_frei.
The Hebrews were ready to leave Egypt and then are told they are going to spend a year meditating on the plagues, ten types of bad behavior. What is a slave mentality?
Student: I deserve this, no sense of self.
Rabbi: The elders of the Sanhedrin followed Moshe into the palace until they saw the lions. He turned around and they were all gone. The first plague is blood. In Ten Commandments blood is associated with donât be jealous because blood is the source of tumah, stopped up, death. So Moshe turns the life force of Egypt, the Nile, into blood. That was a very powerful symbol, instigation of causing strife between brothers. This is what the Nazis would do, give a loaf of bread to two people and tell them to fight to the death over it. Their goal was to breakdown any human feeling. This happened in Egypt. Each plague is associated with a negative behavior. This scared everybody. They wanted to know if they wanted to worship a G*d who hold you accountable for bad behavior? In Torah, thatâs freedom. I work with teenagers and I said you should work the Teenager Handbook of Rights: I can do anything I want. They said line up the magic carpets and fly is to Israel. G*d says not so fast, donât push the end. If you think some goal is freedom, four people went into Paradise and only one came out intact. These were the highest rabbis of all time. It destroyed them. Milton had this concept of Paradise lost.
The main plague was fire and hale on the Nazis, Dresden. The Jews were terrified because the guys who were totally in power. Itâs part of the slave mentality, seeing the oppressor being weakened is even more terrified. Instigation between people, putting a stumbling block in front of a blind man, sometimes people who have pain want to see somebody else in more pain. Enjoy seeing another personâs downfall. The Germans who had such a problem with love and bonding in their own family wanted to see the Jews betrayed. The Egyptian women would bring crying babies into the room so the hidden babies would cry and reveal themselves. Many Jewish babies were smothered by their mothers so their crying wouldnât betray them. The Germans set this up on purpose.
The second plague is frogs. The frogs blow up as a consequence of caricaturing; the Germans had all these comics of pictures of Jews with big noses holding a bag of gold. Weâve been subject to these caricaturing all through the ages. Gossip is taking one bad trait and blowing it all out of proportion. It may be totally true but itâs only one aspect. Weâre not lustful or greedy, Black people are full of lust and Jews are greedy. Scapegoating. Donât lie or bear false witness. Caricature is the worst form of lying.
Third plague: lice. Lice are small, they run around and they donât get anywhere. A lot of busyness to accomplish nothing. Nazis had us building and tear it down, the Egyptians would have us build on quicksand so it would fall down. Purposeless activity beat down peopleâs morale. It makes people feel like their lives are totally meaningless. Donât steal, running to do evil.
Fourth plague: Wild beasts. It reminds me of that book Where The Wild Things Are and Jumangi. Wild beasts was a consequence of evil thoughts. Our demons are like wild beasts. Adultery.
Fifth plague: Epidemic of livestock, dever, was a consequence of violence, connected to the commandment donât murder, which includes having evil thoughts of murder, having hatred toward another person.
Sixth plague: Boils is the same is leprosy, is consequence for gossip, everyone will stay away from you so you get isolated. The only cure for gossip is isolation. Commandment: honor your parents.
Seventh plague: Hail would bend your head over and was the consequence of arrogance. Keeping Shabbos. Patience is the ultimate evidence of humility. Shabbos is taking small steps, be patient, enjoy each step. You canât be present unless youâre patient. Donât plan something for right after Shabbos. Shabbos is called the bris of the mouth because only on Shabbos can you be aware of what youâre talking about, you donât talk about the week, the future, the past. You study, you sing, you try to stay present. Itâs not easy.
Imagine being a Jew in Egypt seeing these awesome sights.
Student: The Egyptians duplicated two of the plagues.
Rabbi: They thought Moshe was the best magician of all, so all the Egyptian magicians converted. You work from where you are and then you strike out to a new context. The lice was the first one they couldnât do. Itâs less shocking, and the subtly of hearing.
Question: Not studying on Xmas.
Rabbi: Thatâs a minhag and only for Chassidim. I say Shabbos has to trump Xmas.
Sacred Fire page 262. January 17, 1942.
This is a challenging piece so Iâll need all your help.
-Elohim spoke to Moses, sayingâ¦.
Rabbi: Connect paragraphs 1 and 2.
Student: Paragraph 1 was about dealing with basic needs. Paragraph 2 could be a tool or music. Live in the present, raise a family.
Student: Each note of the magrafa could be a relationship to G*d.
Rabbi: Each revelation could be a different nigun. We all have a different nigun of how we relate to HaShem.
Student: Ten plagues, ten holes, and they need the shovels to do their work.
Rabbi: The associations with the ten is accountability. When weâre free and responsible, everybody plays a different melody.
Thereâs a link between the magrefa and the ten plagues. If you think freedom is just not having someone to tell you what to do, thatâs generic. But freedom being accountable, ways of refining ourselves, thatâs the freedom of accountability.
Student: It cleans the altar of the ashes and the handle with the ten holes, ___________ but practicality and spirituality are one item.
Student: The shovel is cleaning up what weâve given over ____ the names of HaShem, we relate to HaShem in so many different ways, with every single breath, never in the same moment, weâre moving through our lives, we relate in different ways to HaShemâs different names, so weâre singing hundreds of different songs.
Rabbi: Magrefa is a flute. We donât have names for G*d, we have names for relationships, same as for people, and each is a different nigum. If you meet someone you donât get along with, go up and down the range until you find a tune that harmonizes with their tune.
-Rashi explains that the magrefa was a sort of trowelâ¦.
Rabbi: Jericho is 30 miles from Jerusalem. A long way to be hearing this tune. In my mind this comes together with the best musicians in Europe playing music when the Jews got off the train, and the ashes of the holy peopleâ¦.
-The Tosaphists, in their commentary to the Talmudâ¦. The ashes beautified the altarâ¦
Rabbi: The ashes of the Jewish people were the beautify of the Jews. Many people wanted to bring a korbon to come close.
-Let us try to understand what this teaches usâ¦.
Rabbi: When you bring the animal you say, like we say before Yom Kippur, if I can have some empathy with that total innocence I can be in touch with the innocence of my own soul. We cause defects in our own souls and the korbon and the baby at the bris, we invoke the Akaida that our own innocence is being sacrificed. If we can see the pain of the animal we have a chance to have compassion on our own soul and not do things that will cause disharmony with our own soul.
Student: Itâs a statement of sadness when we realize weâve done something wrong that in some way we donât deserve to live.
Rabbi: Like Joseph we realize weâre the number one cause of our own pain. G*d gave us the soul as a gift and weâre the guardian. Weâre more in contact with the purity of that soul.
Student: If we sacrifice ourselves we donât do our mission. Itâs a chesed weâre given an ability to make this sacrifice and still continue on our journey.
Rabbi: Parents often make their children a korbon. In place of oneâs son it means not sacrificing the people we love.
-The ritual heaping of the ashes of the animal sacrificesâ¦.
Rabbi: Heâs going to say how motivating the longing is of the ashes of the spirits that went up to G*d and left their ashes behind. The music wasnât a German plan, it was hashkucha to have beautiful music in this terrible place. It was absolutely haunting, beautiful music.
Weâre going to line up gemstones as our final word tonight.
Student: I enjoyed Midrash Rabbah. How you have to stretch with the metaphors, accountability and freedom, revelation. There are consequences for our actions and we make that by offering up an animal. We canât say I quit so we offer an animal in place of our souls so we can continue on our path.
Rabbi: A moment of music and a moment of slaughter.
Student: I like the part where the heart yearns for the pain of the people we miss; Moses said show me Akivaâs reward. Akiva was the one who came back from Paradise unscathed and yet he gets tortured.
Student: My poem on becoming intimate which requires love, pain, ashes and questioning.
Rabbi: Korbon, come close.
Student: Midrash Rabbah and how it was interwoven with poetry so it went deeper than just the intellect. It was so bold of Aish Kodesh to speak about ashes and being able to raise it so even our sorrow and longing is with a thousand tunes.
Student [TRF]: A synapse is the space between the beak of the mother bird and baby bird, the space where something leaps and is created, Adam and Eve having to be separated before they could create. G*d hiding behind the curtain reminds me of the bedtime Shmah: Peer with your eyes. This has been like a seder. I knew that each name of G*d meant a different relationship but hadnât realized that this was true for people, too, so I am Softa, Emah, etc.
Student: If I donât like somebody, donât bother me, so harmonizing to connect makes me think I should work harder on relationship.
Rabbi Henoch Dov teaches in Denver, Colorado. You can contact him through his web page, www.RabbiHenochDov.com or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.